Biden’s Bait-and-Change Presidency – The Political Insider

By Charles Lipson for RealClearPolitics

Joe Biden was elected as a moderate-left Democrat, however he isn’t governing as one. He pledged repeatedly to work throughout celebration traces, however he’s ramming by way of the largest, costliest progressive agenda in American historical past with none Republican votes.

He’s virtually sure to strive it once more along with his subsequent two spending proposals, the biggest since Lyndon Johnson’s Nice Society packages.

Because the White Home pushes these mammoth payments with solely Democratic votes, People are realizing they received a really totally different president from the one they bargained for, the one they have been promised in the course of the marketing campaign.

What’s unclear is whether or not they are going to recoil from this new actuality.

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All through the summer season and fall, Biden ran as a unifier who may work throughout celebration traces. He wished to take action, he mentioned, and he reiterated that comforting message as late as his inaugural handle.

It was most likely his most essential coverage message, and People believed it. They remembered his years within the Senate and his major victory over socialist Bernie Sanders.

The truth has been very totally different from the guarantees. Biden’s pledge of bipartisanship and unity turned out to be a cynical sleight-of-hand, uncooked partisanship masquerading as comity.

Within the common election, it labored properly sufficient to defeat a divisive incumbent, whose impulsiveness, rancor, and private assaults repulsed many People. Now that the election is over, so is the message.

Regardless of razor-thin Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill, Biden is set to cross an formidable agenda with no help from Republicans.

The clearest indication of Biden’s bait and swap got here with the stimulus invoice. Earlier than signaling his closing place, the president reached out to Republicans, who proposed a $600 billion package deal, targeted on quick wants plus some fiscal stimulus.

The bipartisan assembly was all for present. Biden rapidly rejected the Republicans’ proposal, made no effort to fulfill with them once more or negotiate any compromise, and selected as a substitute to push for a invoice 3 times as massive, a lot of it to be spent lengthy after the COVID disaster has handed.

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The additional $1.3 trillion didn’t embody the infrastructure and different packages he now considers important. These are coming in extra payments with large worth tags and related tax hikes.

President Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer knew their mammoth COVID invoice would face unified Republican resistance. Irrespective of. They pushed it by way of anyway, utilizing the Senate’s arcane rule for finances reconciliation.

They went huge and unilateral, though Republicans have been desirous to log off on a big reduction invoice that might have commanded a Senate supermajority. This week, we discovered Schumer has quietly requested the Senate parliamentarian if he can use the identical 50-vote process for Biden’s newest spending payments, hoping to keep away from any Republican filibuster.

Will this ‘ram-it-through’ mentality characterize the rest of Biden’s first two years? You don’t have to go to the Oracle at Delphi for a solution.


The clearest indication is that the president, who ran for the Oval Workplace as a person of the Senate, now desires to smash long-standing Senate guidelines so he can cross the remainder of his legislative agenda with out Republican votes.

The filibuster guidelines, Biden says, are nothing greater than “relics of the Jim Crow period.” He’s counting on the distant reminiscence that, greater than half a century in the past, Southern senators used the filibuster to oppose desegregation.

But the massive civil rights and voting rights payments of the mid-Sixties nonetheless handed. What’s extra, they handed with sufficient debate and votes to buttress the statutes with a nationwide political consensus.

Since then, each events have used the filibuster to oppose all types of payments, most of them far faraway from race. The Democrats used the approach repeatedly final yr, once they have been within the minority. They used it, as an example, to cease a police reform invoice proposed by Tim Scott, an African American representing the state that fired the primary pictures within the Civil Warfare.

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However that’s just one instance amongst many. When Joe Biden and Barack Obama served within the Senate, they not solely used the filibuster, they explicitly defended it. So did Chuck Schumer. Have been they defending Jim Crow? No. They have been defending the historic position of the Senate, which grants some energy to the minority celebration.

Now, the identical Democrats need to overturn these guidelines, and they’re cynically deploying the delicate situation of race to do it. However race is just not the true situation right here. It’s whether or not the Senate desires to afford vital rights to the minority celebration, because it has for over two centuries, forcing both compromise options or stalemate.

Put otherwise, do senators actually need to flip their chamber into one thing just like the Home, the place the minority is powerless and debate is meaningless? As soon as they do this, they’ll by no means flip again.

Behind Biden’s option to go huge, progressive, and unilateral lie three fundamental calculations. The primary is that, if historical past is any information, Democrats are prone to lose the Home in 2022. The incumbent president’s celebration virtually at all times suffers losses, usually huge ones, and the Democrats don’t have any seats to spare.

Meaning Biden has solely two years to cross his aggressive agenda. Second is his judgment that voters actually like huge authorities spending. Latest polling suggests they do, for now.  The query is whether or not that help will final and whether or not it would outweigh voters’ issues about tax hikes to pay for these packages.

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Third, Biden is betting that voters in 2022 and 2024 will care much more about right this moment’s sensible outcomes than about yesterday’s damaged marketing campaign guarantees. That’s most likely true. The White Home additionally is aware of it could blame Republicans for any resistance to its agenda. It has a bully pulpit and a compliant media to assist.

The result’s a president decided to cross all the pieces on the Democrats’ all-you-can-eat menu, even when he has to do it with strict party-line votes. As a candidate, Joe Biden promised voters a center-left agenda and bipartisanship. As a president, he’s giving them neither.

Biden’s deception is predicated on the oldest advertising and marketing approach within the e book: bait and swap.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

Charles Lipson is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Political Science Emeritus on the College of Chicago, the place he based the Program on Worldwide Politics, Economics, and Safety. He will be reached at [email protected].

The opinions expressed by contributors and/or content material companions are their very own and don’t essentially mirror the views of The Political Insider.

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